chapter  1
23 Pages

Introduction

National public apology for historic wrongs is a type of discourse that attempts to repair and rebuild damaged international relationships, often characterized by long histories of animosity, conflict, and suffering. Apologies have the potential for rebuilding trust or at least for ameliorating anger and distrust between erstwhile enemies. They provide a mechanism for reconciliation and symbolize new beginnings. At the same time, apologies encourage reconsideration of the past in the context of contemporary values, thus offering opportunity for affirmation of moral principle. However, apologies are a two-edged sword; they can antagonize and reopen old wounds. They can remind parties of continuing differences in perspective and raise new questions as to intent and sincerity. In a world often fraught with antagonisms left over from the past, it behooves us, as communication scholars, to understand the dynamics and motive force of such discourse.